Gears of War

Developed by Epic Games

Published by Microsoft Game Studios

Available Now for Xbox 360

"Die, bitches!" shouts one of the characters in Gears of War. At least I think that's what he's saying. I could be wrong—it's hard to tell over the sounds of bullets thudding, grenades exploding, and monsters screaming. So yeah, maybe it was "Eat shit and die!" which I know I heard a few moments ago. Either way, my point is this: If their literary wordsmithing is any indication, the developers at Epic Games were in remedial English. And they failed it.

A few nights ago, I was trying to convince a girl—a cute girl at that, and one who decidedly does not play videogames—that videogames are important, that they're changing things, that they're bringing new ways of storytelling and interactivity to our cultural consciousness. Usually when I do this I talk about the narrative-driven subtleties of BioWare's role-playing games, or about how Katamari Damacy and Guitar Hero appeal to almost everybody, or how Nintendo's new console, the Wii, uses its intuitive controller and fun, easy party games to entertain everyone from toddlers to drunken hipsters to grandparents. Look, I say. Games aren't just played by adolescent boys anymore. They're not just about blowing shit up and killing monsters. They've grown into something else, and they're only going to keep growing.

I don't think my spiel worked, really, which is fine; I'd feel worse about it if I hadn't gone home afterward to play Gears of War, a game targeted at adolescent boys, and one that's expressly about blowing shit up and killing monsters. Granted, Gears has some pretty amazing stuff—striking camera angles, tight controls, fresh gameplay, and the prettiest graphics I've ever seen. And it's really, really fun, both in single player and multiplayer. But the next time I launch into my speech about how videogames are going to change the world, Gears of War isn't going to be one of the games I'll use as evidence.